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Pro-homosexuality Conference Leaders Use Clergy Forum To Promote Doctrines Contrary To UM Teachings in N. Illinois

From: Kent Svendsen godrilla@accessus.net
To: [many evangelicals in the NIC]
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000 13:08:04 -0500
Subject: Northern Illinois Clergy Forum 2000

The Northern Illinois Conference is promoting a "Clergy Forum" centered around "theological discussion" and protecting itself from criticism by having it be presumably set up by the laity of a local church. The program is centered around the following premise.


Is the Bible of human creation? Are many of its stories not to be read literally but understood from the historical context, experiences and intent of its authors? Laity of First United Methodist Church in Downers Grove have assembled a panel of respected conference clergy to openly explore these and other pressing questions of Christian faith. Hopefully, we can begin to see that living the Christian life is not just about believing, but that it is about a relationship with the God who is sacramentally mediated to us through the lends of the Christian tradition which is the Bible, the gospels, Jesus himself, and the worship practices of our life together in the Christian community. It is about a life centered in the Spirit, marked by compassion, concerned about justice, lived within the alternative community of Jesus, and being more concerned with ethical living in the here-and-now than with the hope of an after-life.

It will be a panel discussion which will exclude open and honest discussion on the subjects since only the panel will be allowed to express thoughts and opinions. As near as I can surmise the panel consists of a small number of theological liberals who have all expressed their opinions rather openly on the subject already.

Here are the Clergy Forum Questions

Theological Questions

1. What is the character of God? Is God in charge of human history? How should we image God - as an external supernatural being who intervenes in the world at will to aid or punish humans? What is the character of evil?

2. What is the relationship between God and humans? Were humans created in God's image or God in humans' image? Is your definition earth-centric or does it allow for beings elsewhere in the infinite universe? Were the first humans created perfect and have since "fallen"? What is sin?

3. Are all humans equal in God's `eye' or is there a select group that is chosen and others who are not? What do "chosen", "not chosen", "saved", "not saved" mean and how does these relate to God's (not human) judgment? Is there a limit to the "inclusiveness" of the church and, is so, where is it and what are its scriptural, rational and experiential bases?

Scriptural Questions

1. Is the Bible the inerrant word of God or is it of human creation? Can the gospels be viewed as containing a combination of voices - Jesus, the early Christian community and the authors? Specifically, are some statements attributed to Jesus made by the latter two voices and inserted after Jesus' death?

2. Can the miracle stories of the New Testament be understood literally or are they the post Easter developing tradition of the early Christian community who employed symbols, metaphors and myth of their Jewish worldview as a way of describing what Jesus had become in their experience?

3. Do apocalyptic elements such as Jesus' return to sit in cosmic final judgment still belong in Christian theology? In fact, are they assuredly linked to the historical Jesus in the first place?

4. To what extent has mainline Christian theology been challenged by critical scholarship of the historical Jesus of the past quarter century? What new understandings of scripture, its origins and historical context have resulted and how have they influenced seminary teaching. Should the laity be better informed about such historical-critical findings? If so, how?

Doctrine Questions

1. When did Jesus become divine - at birth, visiting the Temple at age 12, at his baptism, upon his death and resurrection, never or when? Did Jesus think he was divine? Is Christian theology defined by the life of Jesus or by his death?

2. Can believers who cannot accept the literal doctrines of original sin, obedience/judgement, heaven/hell, a devil, atonement, the birth narrative, the transfiguration, resurrection, ascension, afterlife, the 2nd coming and final judgment still be spiritually nourished in the Christian Church? Is so, how?

3. Is Christianity the only religion that offers humans a path to God? Is Jesus the only way to salvation? What are the respective roles of evangelism (proclamation of the Good News) and mission (sharing God's love through compassionate action) in the outreach of the church? What is the true role of a "missionary" today?

4. Is Christianity still a developing tradition or are its doctrines and theology forever fixed? Can the relevance of traditional church theology, doctrine and interpretation of scripture be linked to the decline in church membership? Because of a changing worldview in the postmodern era, some people are calling for a reformation of the Christian church. Is one needed? What is the future of Christianity?

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